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How Not to Die

A nurse feeds a man during lunch time in an elderly home (REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas).

Editor’s Note: This short blog post is based on the longer The Atlantic article, “How Not to Die,” by Jonathan Rauch. It focuses on revolutionizing end-of-life care by utilizing entrepreneurs in the medical system.

Here in Washington, we talk obsessively about reforming health care as something the government needs to do. Which it surely does. But one thing we forget is that a lot of reform is coming up from the grassroots, and this bottom-up reform, by showing the way forward, will be every bit as important as top-down reform, and a lot less subject to political gridlock.

Example: Dr. Angelo Volandes, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, has a gold-plated medical-establishment pedigree. But he’s also a zealous reformer who believes that much of the treatment administered to people nearing the end of life is not only unnecessary but, much worse, actually unwanted—because patients are not given the information they need in order to set treatment goals. He and colleagues are pioneering short, easily understandable videos that illustrate treatment options and goals of care visually, giving patients a clearer idea of what their choices really are.

Read about it here. The U.S. medical system is not friendly to disruptive entrepreneurs. But if we're going to improve value, reduce medical inflation, and make patients' experiences better, we'll need to make the most of entrepreneurs like Volandes.

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